LONDON: Red Bull Formula One driver Max Verstappen pulled out of the second All-Star Esports Battle on Saturday but Rudy Van Buren, the ‘World’s Fastest Gamer’ in 2017, made sure there was a Dutch winner anyway.
The 20-lap race on a virtual Indianapolis road course featured a cast of top drivers and gamers, competing remotely, after the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak brought motor sport to a standstill.
Van Buren, a former simulator driver for McLaren who now performs the role for the Mahindra Formula E team, finished third in last weekend’s first All-Star race and this time won from third on the grid.
McLaren Shadow esports racer Kevin Siggy was second with Portuguese gamer Nuno Pinto third.
Spaniard Dani Juncadella, who races in the German Touring Car (DTM) championship, was the highest finishing real racer in fourth.
Others who failed to make it through the heats to the 20-car final included former F1 racer Juan Pablo Montoya and Brazilian Tony Kanaan, both winners of the Indianapolis 500.
Verstappen finished 11th last weekend in a race hastily put together by Torque Esports and www.the-race.com after Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was cancelled.
He had been due to return but the Dutch 22-year-old said instead that he would be racing today in Team Redline’s ‘Real Racers Never Quit’ esports race, live on YouTube and Twitch.
“So great to see so many of you are enjoying the sim racing we do online. I hope we can put on a show for all race fans to enjoy,” he said on Instagram.
Australia and the Monaco Grand Prix, a glamorous fixture on the calendar since 1955, have been cancelled entirely.
Britain’s six-times Olympic cycling champion turned sportscar racer Chris Hoy will represent Red Bull in the F1 race, his first venture into esports, along with Austrian racing driver Philipp Eng.
Former McLaren F1 driver and current Mercedes Formula E racer Stoffel Vandoorne will also feature.
Nico Hulkenberg, who left Formula One at the end of last year, has a busy weekend - the German competed in Saturday’s all-star event and also took part in the Bahrain virtual race which was held late last night.